- § 390.3
- § 390.5
- § 390.9
State and local laws, effect on.
- § 390.15
Assistance in investigations and special studies.
- § 390.17
Additional equipment and accessories.
- § 390.21
Marking of self-propelled CMVs and intermodal equipment.
- § 390.23
Relief from regulations.
Section § 390.5: Definitions.Below are the available interpretations for the given section. To return to the list of parts, use the Parts link above. The menu to the left provides a full list of sections that have interpretations. To view interpretations for a different section, click on the menu item.
The regulations text of the section can be found on the eCFR website. To view the regulations text, use the link below. For assistance, please send an email to FMCSA.Webmaster@dot.gov.
View regulations for Part 390
Question 1: Do the definitions of "farm", "farmer" and "agricultural crops" apply to greenhouse operations?
Question 2: Is a vehicle used to transport or tow an hydrous ammonia nurse tanks considered a CMV and subject to FMCSRs?
Guidance: Yes, provided the vehicle's GVWR or GCWR meets or exceeds that of a CMV as defined in §390.5 and/or the vehicle transports HM in a quantity that requires placarding.
Question 3: If a vehicle’s GVWR plate and/or VIN number are missing but its actual gross weight is 10,001 pounds or more, may an enforcement officer use the latter instead of GVWR to determine the applicability of the FMCSRs?
Yes. The only apparent reason to remove the manufacturer’s GVWR plate or VIN number is to make it impossible for roadside enforcement officers to determine the applicability of the FMCSRs, which have a GVWR threshold of 10,001 pounds. In order to frustrate willful evasion of safety regulations, an officer may therefore presume that a vehicle which does not have a manufacturer’s GVWR plate and/or does not have a VIN number has a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more if: (1) It has a size and configuration normally associated with vehicles that have a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more; and (2) It has an actual gross weight of 10,001 pounds or more.
A motor carrier or driver may rebut the presumption by providing the enforcement officer the GVWR plate, the VIN number or other information of comparable reliability which demonstrates, or allows the officer to determine, that the GVWR of the vehicle is below the jurisdictional weight threshold.
Question 4: If a vehicle with a manufacturer’s GVWR of less than 10,001 pounds has been structurally modified to carry a heavier load, may an enforcement officer use the higher actual gross weight of the vehicle, instead of the GVWR, to determine the applicability of the FMCSRs?
Guidance: Yes. The motor carrier’s intent to increase the weight rating is shown by the structural modifications. When the vehicle is used to perform functions normally performed by a vehicle with a higher GVWR, §390.33 allows an enforcement officer to treat the actual gross weight as the GVWR of the modified vehicle.
Question 5: A driver used by a motor carrier operates a CMV to and from his/her residence out of State. Is this considered interstate commerce?
Guidance: If the driver is operating a CMV at the direction of the motor carrier, it is considered interstate commerce and is subject to the FMCSRs. If the motor carrier is allowing the driver to use the vehicle for private personal transportation, such transportation is not subject to the FMCSRs.
Question 6: Is transporting an empty CMV across State lines for purposes of repair and maintenance considered interstate commerce?
Guidance: Yes. The FMCSRs are applicable to drivers and CMVs in interstate commerce which transport property. The property in this situation is the empty CMV.
Guidance: No. Off-road motorized construction equipment is outside the scope of these definitions: (1) When operated at construction sites: and (2) when operated on a public road open to unrestricted public travel, provided the equipment is not used in furtherance of a transportation purpose. Occasionally driving such equipment on a public road to reach or leave a construction site does not amount to furtherance of a transportation purpose. Since construction equipment is not designed to operate in traffic, it should be accompanied by escort vehicles or in some other way separated from the public traffic. This equipment may also be subject to State or local permit requirements with regard to escort vehicles, special markings, time of day, day of the week, and/or the specific route.
Question 8: What types of equipment are included in the category of off-road motorized construction equipment?
Guidance: The definition of off-road motorized construction equipment is to be narrowly construed and limited to equipment which, by its design and function is obviously not intended for use, nor is it used on a public road in furtherance of a transportation purpose. Examples of such equipment include motor scrapers, backhoes, motor graders, compactors, tractors, trenchers, bulldozers and railroad track maintenance cranes.
Question 9: Are mobile cranes operating in interstate commerce considered CMVs, and are they subject to the FMCSRs?
The definition of CMV encompasses mobile cranes. Unlike the off-road motorized construction equipment discussed in Guidance Questions 7 and 8 above, mobile cranes are readily capable of traveling at highway speeds, over extended distances, and in the mixed traffic of public highways. Although the functions a crane performs are distinct from the transportation provided by a truck, the ready mobility of the crane depends on its permanent integration with a truck chassis. The truck chassis is equipped with wheels, tires, brakes, a suspension system, and other components. The mobile crane itself, like an empty CMV (see Guidance Question 6), is considered property.
[74 FR 43641, Aug. 27, 2009]
Question 10: Does the FHWA define for-hire transportation of passengers the same as the former ICC did?
To the extent FHWA's authority stems from 49 U.S.C. 31502 or other sections of Title 49 which are rooted in the Interstate Commerce Act, the FHWA is bound by judicial precedent and legislative history in interpreting that Act, much of which relates to the operations of the former ICC. However, since the MCSA of 1984 re-established the FHWA’s jurisdictional authority and resulted in a re-promulgation of the FMCSRs, the FHWA has been establishing its own precedents based on "safety" rather than "economics" as the overriding consideration. This has resulted in some deviation in the definition of terms by the two agencies, e.g., commercial zones, for-hire transportation, etc.
The term "for-hire motor carrier" as defined in part 390 means a person engaged in the transportation of goods or passengers for compensation. The FHWA has determined that any business entity that assesses a fee, monetary or otherwise, directly or indirectly for the transportation of passengers is operating as a for-hire carrier. Thus, the transportation for compensation in interstate commerce of passengers by motor vehicles (except in six-passenger taxicabs operating on fixed routes) in the following operations would typically be subject to all parts of the FMCSRs, including part 387: whitewater river rafters, hotel/motel shuttle transporters, rental car shuttle services, etc. These are examples of for-hire carriage because some fee is charged, usually indirectly in a total package charge or other assessment for transportation performed.
Question 11: A company has a truck with a GVWR under 10,001 pounds towing a trailer with a GVWR under 10,001 pounds. However, the GVWR of the truck added to the GVWR of the trailer is greater than 10,001 pounds. Would the company operating this vehicle in interstate commerce have to comply with the FMCSRs?
Guidance: §390.5 of the FMCSRs includes in the definition of CMV a vehicle with a GVWR or GCWR of 10,001 or more pounds. The section further defines GCWR as the value specified by the manufacturer as the loaded weight of a combination (articulated) vehicle. Therefore, if the GVWR of the truck added to the GVWR of the trailer exceeds 10,001 pounds, the driver and vehicle are subject to the FMCSRs.
Question 12: A CMV becomes stuck in a median or on a shoulder, and has had no contact with another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a fixed object prior to becoming stuck. If a tow truck is used to pull the CMV back onto the traveled portion of the road, would this be considered an accident?
Question 13: To what extent would the wind shield and/or mirrors of a vehicle have to be damaged in order for it to be considered "disabling damage" as used in the definition of an accident in §390.5?
Guidance: The decision as to whether damage to a windshield and/or mirrors is disabling is left to the discretion of the investigating officer.
Question 14: Would a tillerman, a person exercising control over the steerable rear axle(s) on a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), be considered a driver as defined in § 390.5, and thus subject to 49 CFR Parts 390 to 399?
Guidance: A person physically located on the rear of the CMV who controls a steerable rear axle while the CMV is moving at highway speeds would be considered a driver as defined in § 390.5 and therefore would be subject to the regulations in 49 CFR parts 390–399. A person walking beside a CMV or riding in an escort car while controlling a steerable rear axle at slow speeds would not be considered a driver as defined in § 390.5 and would therefore not be subject to 49 CFR Parts 390 to 399.
Question 15: Does the definition of a "commercial motor vehicle" in §390.5 of the FMCSRs include parking lot and/or street sweeping vehicles?
Guidance: If the GVWR of a parking lot or street sweeping vehicle is 10,001 or more pounds, and it operates in interstate commerce, it is a CMV.
Question 16: Does a driver leasing company that hires, assigns, trains, and/or supervises drivers for a private or for-hire motor carrier become a motor carrier as defined by 49 CFR 390.5?
Question 17: May a motor carrier that employs owner-operators who have their own operating authority issued by the ICC or the Surface Transportation Board transfer the responsibility for compliance with the FMCSRs to the owner-operators?
Guidance: No. The term "employee," as defined in §390.5, specifically includes an independent contractor employed by a motor carrier. The existence of operating authority has no bearing upon the issue. The motor carrier is, therefore, responsible for compliance with the FMCSRs by its driver employees, including those who are owner-operators.
Question 18: Must a person who is injured in an accident and immediately receives treatment away from the scene of the accident be transported in an ambulance?
No. Any type of vehicle may be used to transport an injured person from the accident scene to the treatment site.
The term "immediate" means without an unreasonable delay. A person immediately receives medical treatment if he or she is transported directly from the scene of an accident to a hospital or other medical facility as soon as it is considered safe and feasible to move the injured person away from the scene of the accident.
Question 19: What is the meaning of ‘‘immediate’’ as used in the definition of ‘‘accident?’’
Guidance: The term ‘‘immediate’’ means without an unreasonable delay. A person immediately receives medical treatment if he or she is transported directly from the scene of an accident to a hospital or other medical facility as soon as it is considered safe and feasible to move the injured person away from the scene of the accident.
Question 20: A person involved in an incident discovers that he or she is injured after leaving the scene of the incident and receives medical attention at that time. Does the incident meet the definition of accident in 49 CFR 390.5?
Guidance: No. The incident does not meet the definition of accident in 49 CFR 390.5 because the person did not receive treatment immediately after the incident.
Question 21: Do electronic devices which are advertised as radar jammers meet the definition of a radar detector in 49 CFR 390.5?
Guidance: Devices that are said to reflect incoming energy passively or to transmit steadily on the same frequency as police radar units are not radar detectors because they do not detect radio microwaves. Devices that are said to detect and isolate the incoming signal and then to transmit on the same frequency to interfere with the police unit would qualify as radar detectors.
Question 22: Is a motor vehicle drawing a non-self-propelled mobile home that has one or more set of wheels on the roadway, a driveaway-towaway operation?
Guidance: Yes, if the mobile home is a commodity. For example, the mobile home is transported from the manufacturer to the dealer or from the dealer or other seller to the buyer.
Question 23: Can a truck tractor drawing a trailer be a driveaway-towaway operation?
Guidance: Yes, if the trailer is a commodity. For example, the trailer is transported from the manufacturer to the dealer or from the dealer or other seller to the buyer.
Question 24: Are trailers which are stacked upon each other and drawn by a motor vehicle by attachment to the bottom trailer, a driveaway-towaway operation.
Guidance: No. Only the bottom trailer has one or more sets of wheels on the roadway. The other trailers are cargo.
Question 25: The definition of a passenger CMV is a vehicle "designed to transport" more than 15 passengers, including the driver. Does that include standing passengers if the vehicle was specifically designed to accommodate standees?
Guidance: No. "Designed to transport" refers only to the number of designated seats; it does not include areas suitable, or even designed, for standing passengers.
Question 26: What is considered a "public road"?
Guidance: A public road is any road under the jurisdiction of a public agency and open to public travel or any road on private property that is open to public travel.
A person is transported to a hospital from the scene of a commercial motor vehicle traffic accident.
In one situation, the person undergoes observation or a “checkup. Is this considered “medical treatment,” making the CMV occurrence an “accident” for purposes of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations?
In another situation, the person undergoes x-ray examination or is given a prescription, but is released from the facility without being admitted as an inpatient. Is the x-ray or prescription considered “medical treatment,” making the CMV occurrence and “accident” for purposes of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations?
n the first situation, no. A person who does not receive treatment for diagnosed injuries or other medical intervention directly related to the accident, has not received “medical treatment” as that term is used in §390.5.
In the second situation, yes. A person who undergoes x-ray examination (or other imaging, such as computed tomography or CT), or is given prescription medication (or the prescription itself), has received “medical treatment.”
Question 28: A driver of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is changing lanes. A passenger car driver near the CMV loses control, leaves the roadway, and is involved in an accident. The passenger car must be towed. Is the CMV considered to be “involved” under the definition of “accident” in §390.5?
Guidance: The CMV would not be considered “involved” unless the police investigation officer determines that the CMV caused or contributed to the accident.
Question 29: A corporation (the parent corporation) owns subsidiary corporations that are for-hire motor carriers, each having their own separate operating authorities. The parent corporation does not operate commercial motor vehicles. However, the parent corporation exercises or retains management supervision, including supervision for safety compliance, and provides policy/procedural manuals and driver safety manuals for the subsidiary corporations (forhire motor carriers). Is the parent corporation considered a motor carrier as defined by 49 CFR 390.5?
Guidance: No. A motor carrier is defined in 49 CFR 390.5 as a for-hire motor carrier or a private motor carrier. The term includes a motor carrier’s agents, officers and representatives as well as employees responsible for hiring, supervising, training, assigning, or dispatching of drivers and employees concerned with the installation, inspection, and maintenance of motor vehicle equipment and/or accessories. As long as the parent corporation does not engage in the transportation of goods or passengers for compensation (i.e., exercising daily control over drivers and equipment; and, in the case of a for-hire motor carrier, soliciting customers, and billing and collecting freight charges), it would not be considered a motor carrier. The exercise of managerial control by the parent corporation by establishing operational policies and procedures, or through other forms of general oversight, does not, in and of itself, make it a motor carrier under FMCSA regulations.
Question 30: Does an explosion or fire in a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) that has not collided with other vehicles or stationary objects meet the definition of an “accident” under §390.5?
Fires have been included in the definition of “accidents” since 1962. However, in an effort to simplify the regulatory text, the agency removed the specific references to fires, rollovers, and other noncollision accidents in 1972. As the agency indicated, however, its intent was to include all of these items as accidents (37 FR 18079, September 7, 1972).
A fire or explosion in a CMV operating on a highway in interstate or intrastate commerce would be considered an “accident” if it resulted in a fatality; bodily injuries requiring the victim to be transported immediately to a medical facility away from the scene; or disabling damage requiring the CMV to be towed. A collision is not a pre-requisite to an “accident” under §390.5.
Any CMV fires that meet the accident criteria in 49 CFR 390.5 — that is, fires that occur in a commercial motor vehicle in transport on a roadway customarily open to the public which result in a fatality, bodily injury requiring immediate medical attention away from the scene of the accident, or disabling damage requiring a vehicle to be towed — will be considered in the safety fitness determination. As indicated in Appendix B to 49 CFR Part 385, FMCSA will continue to consider preventability when a motor carrier contests a safety rating by presenting compelling evidence that the recordable rate is not a fair means of evaluating its accident factor.
With regard to fires, preventability will be determined according to the following: If a motor carrier, that exercises normal judgment and foresight could have anticipated the possibility of the fire that in fact occurred, and avoided it by taking steps within its control — short of suspending operations — which would not have risked causing another kind of mishap, the fire was preventable.
Question 31: What location may a motor carrier designate as its "principal place of business"?
In instances where a motor carrier has more than one terminal or office, the regulations do not explicitly place a restriction on which location a motor carrier may designate as its principal place of business. The definition states that such a location is "normally" the carrier's headquarters; the rule does not require motor carriers to use the company's corporate headquarters as its principal place of business. However, motor carriers are limited to using an actual place of business of the motor carrier. Moreover, a motor carrier may designate as its principal place of business only locations that contain offices of the motor carrier's senior-most management executives, management officials or employees responsible for the administration, management and oversight of safety operations and compliance with the FMCSRs and Hazardous Materials Regulations. In determining its principal place of business a motor carrier must consider the following factors: (a) The relative importance of the activities performed at each location, and, if this factor is not determinative, then (b) time spent at each location by motor carrier management or corporate officers.
FMCSA authorized representatives will use the above two factors in determining whether a motor carrier has designated an appropriate location as its principal place of business. In addition, FMCSA may also consider whether the location is operated, controlled or owned by the motor carrier, whether operations relating to the transportation of persons or property regularly take place at the designated location, whether any of the employees of the motor carrier regularly report to the location for duty, whether any leased or owned vehicles of the company are maintained on the premises, and whether any of the records required by parts 382, 387, 390, 391, 395, 396 and 397 are maintained on the premises. In the event a carrier does not designate a qualifying location as its principal place of business, FMCSA may initiate appropriate enforcement action or take action regarding the carrier's USDOT registration.
A motor carrier with multiple business locations may maintain some records at locations of the motor carrier other than, or in addition to, its principal place of business. However, after a request has been made by an FMCSA authorized representative, a motor carrier with multiple business locations must make records required by parts 382, 387, 390, 391, 395, 396 and 397 available for inspection at the principal place of business or other location specified by the special agent or authorized representative within 48 hours. Pursuant to § 390.29, "Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays are excluded from the computation of the 48-hour period of time." A motor carrier with a single business location must make records required by parts 382, 387, 390, 391, 395, 396 and 397 available upon request.
A motor carrier may not designate as its principal place of business any location where the motor carrier is not engaged in business operations related to the transportation of persons or property. For example, post office box centers or commercial courier service establishments that receive and hold mail or packages for third party pickup may not be designated a "principal place of business" (other than by the courier service provider itself). A motor carrier may not designate the office of a consultant, service agent, or attorney as the motor carrier's principal place of business if the motor carrier is not engaged in operations related to the transportation of persons or property at that location.
[74 FR 37654, July 29, 2009]
Question 32: May a motor carrier with a single business location, including a private residence, designate a different location as its "principal place of business"?
No. The definition of "principal place of business" in 49 CFR 390.5 allows a carrier with multiple terminals or offices to designate a single terminal or office as its primary business location for identification purposes. Consistent with this definition, a motor carrier with a single place of business may designate only its actual place of business as the "principal place of business." Notwithstanding this restriction, a motor carrier and an authorized representative of FMCSA may agree that a compliance review or other investigation of a motor carrier will be conducted at a mutually acceptable location other than the motor carrier's principal place of business.
[74 FR 37654, July 29, 2009]